Israel Does Not Know How To End the Gaza War: Military and political analysts now say the conflict is unwinnable, but no one has an exit plan (Lisa Goldman, May 21, 2024, New/Lines)

Israel is in a “plonter.” The Hebrew word, which translates as a knot that defies untangling, is often used to describe an intractable situation. It’s a word one hears frequently from Israeli political commentators these days, as the army grinds through its seventh month of war in Gaza without having achieved the two goals stated at the outset of the campaign — the destruction of Hamas’ military capacity and the release of the captives. Now the prevailing opinion of establishment experts — journalists, policy specialists, senior military veterans — is that those goals are unachievable and the war unwinnable.

But neither the political leadership nor the army’s high command has thought of an exit strategy, let alone a plan for the day after — assuming there will be a cease-fire at some point. From the Israeli perspective, all the options are bad. A return to the status quo ante, with Hamas resuming its governance of Gaza, is not on the table. Even if the reinstatement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party as the governing body in Gaza were desirable, the obstacles are practically insurmountable (in 2007 Hamas engineered a violent putsch to oust Fatah’s leadership from Gaza). Among Palestinians, the PA is widely considered to be corrupt and ineffective, with no authority to govern. Israel’s far right wants to reestablish the military bases and settlements that were evacuated in 2005; the army’s senior command has vociferously rejected this idea. But no Israeli leader has offered a practical suggestion that would fill the power vacuum created by the war. Nor has the United States or any other outside body offered a workable, practical solution. And so the world watches as the war drags on and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza grows more acute.

You can’t exterminate Hamas without exterminating the Palestinians, since it is the political party they support. (Abraham Lincoln did not get rid of the Democrats, just the Confederacy.)

The Palestinians, like every other people, are endowed with the right to self-determination. Recognize the nation and let them elect Barghouti president with a Hamas legislature.


Household Debt in Perspective: Delinquency rates are rising, signaling some stress—but overall, they remain historically low. (Fisher Investments, 05/16/2024)

On Tuesday, the New York Fed dropped its Q1 Household Debt and Credit Report—a gauge garnering tons of attention with inflation running high in recent years. Many presume rising living costs are forcing ever-more households deeper into unserviceable hock—a narrative that reemerged this week. But the data don’t support the harangue.

Liberalism just keeps failing upwards.


New research shows gas stove emissions contribute to 19,000 deaths annually (VICTORIA ST. MARTIN, 5/19/24, INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS)

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, found that gas stoves contribute to about 19,000 adult deaths each year and increase long-time exposure to nitrogen dioxide to 75 percent of the World Health Organization’s exposure guideline.

That last figure was one of the most significant findings by the research team, said the study’s lead author, Yannai Kashtan.

“This study’s main contribution is quantifying how much of that pollution really makes it to your nose, if you will,” Kashtan said in an interview.

Kashtan said that the study found that the most pressing dangers to gas stove owners—estimated to be as much as 40 percent of the population—stemmed from long-term exposure to harmful gases.

“The exposures that we’re estimating, they’re not going to cause immediate, terrible health outcomes tomorrow,” Kashtan said. “So we certainly don’t want to be alarmist. On the other hand, day after day, year after year, using a stove that the exposure really does build up and does increase the risk of all these respiratory diseases.

“It’s most important that people are aware of the risks and on the one hand, don’t freak out tomorrow, but also think seriously about indoor air pollution when they’re thinking about, ‘OK, you know, what’s my next appliance going to be?’” he added.

Researchers also found that people of color are disproportionately affected by the stoves.


The Case For Open Borders: Journalist John Washington debunks common anti-immigrant myths and explains why free movement is a human right. (NATHAN J. ROBINSON, 5/17/24, Current Affairs)

One of the strangest things is that the places in the country that have the largest immigrant populations, like New York City, people there don’t think it’s going to be a threat to their culture if there’s immigration because they know that the whole vibrancy of the city is built on its diversity.

Except maybe for Mayor Adams and most of the NYPD police force. His arguments are really insulting to history, to the legacy that the current status of New York City as a city was really built by immigrants, or, going back to our last point, by invaders. Does he think that 170,000 people over a little bit more than two years is a threat? Actually, Adams has described it as an existential threat to New York City. It’s almost laughable, but it’s actually just stupid.

You can point back to so many different moments in New York City’s history and say, actually, the percentage of people who were coming at that moment in the early 20th century, and in the mid-19th century, 30 percent of the population was coming in a six-month period. Right now, it’s about 1 percent of the population coming over in a two-year period, to a robust economy. What’s going to change in New York City? There’s going to be some more stands in Queens—what is the actual change that we will see in New York? It takes some work to help orient people and to welcome them. But also, these people are barred from working right now—most of them are. Adams, to his credit, has actually addressed that point that we should give them work visas and let them actually do the work that they came here to do rather than trying to force them to rely on handouts.


Hope and Optimism on the Planet of the Apes (Tyler Hummel, 5/17/24, Voegelin View)

As a story told from the apes’ perspective, it is a strangely optimistic trilogy. The ape’s near-literal exodus from confinement to the promised land creates one of the strangest Moses allegories in contemporary fiction, while still being about humorous talking monkeys. The human characters that form the ensemble never return between movies, due to being implicitly killed off. Caesar, Maurice, and Koba are the most empathetic and consistent characters of the trilogy, and the story of apes seeking their freedom—united by brotherhood and loyalty—is the lone spot of hope in a franchise where the only possible ending is the end of the world and the fated end of mankind.

They’re endowed by their Creator with the right to self-determination.


Review: Russell Kirk’s The Politics of Prudence (Paul Krause, May 17, 2024, Voegelin View)

This basic framework for understanding conservatism is then revealed through the chapters of this book, beginning with the “Errors of Ideology.” Ideology, as Kirk defines it, is a dogmatic approach to “transforming society and even transforming human nature.” The ideologue generally takes as their starting point a hatred of the current political order, a hatred of human nature, and a belief in progressive utopia from some thinker or book who revealed to humanity what could be. Ideology, as practiced by the ideologue, becomes “merciless” in that “march toward Utopia.” Drawing upon other thinkers like Eric Voegelin and Gerhart Niemeyer, Kirk sharply explains the essence of ideology as “promis[ing] mankind an earthly paradise.”

Conservatism, standing in opposition to ideology, isn’t about rejecting change or reform. Kirk, quoting Burke (one of his heroes), knows and affirms that change and reform are necessary (change is a natural part of existence). Change and reform can be good things too. However, the change and reform that conservatism promotes is within the limits of worldly and human nature—to make it better, not perfect. In the merciless march to Utopia promoted by ideology and conservatism’s opposition to ideological madness, Kirk implies that conservatism acts within the boundaries of nature (both earthly and humanly) while ideology seeks to eradicate nature to escape the limits of nature.


Joe Biden Is a Lousy Politician (Matthew Continetti, May 14, 2024, AEI)

We pretend that the chief executive and his inner circle have a deep and mystical insight into the mood of voters and how best to shape public attitudes. The reason for this illusion is that there is only one president at a time. Winning the White House is an enormous task. To achieve it, the president and his team must build a national coalition. They must earn a mandate. They have got to know what they are doing.

That’s the cover story. Every so often, though, a president comes along who dashes the nation’s expectations of fitness, capacity, and suitability for office. The president may be an honorable man or an effective demagogue. His record may be admirable or mixed. But, at some point, his poll numbers go south. Nothing goes right. None of his solutions work. Looking back, it appears as if he were doomed from the start.

Such was the fate shared by Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Donald Trump. They belong to a club no one wants to join: a motley crew of one-termers. It may soon welcome a new member named Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

All Joe was hired to do was beat Donald. No one thought he’d be an effective executive. He should have chosen a capable vp and resigned once his job was done.


The myth of “woke” indoctrination at American universities (JUDD LEGUM, MAY 16, 2024, Popular Information)

Open Syllabus, a non-profit group, collects syllabi from colleges and universities. The group has collected over 5.5 million syllabi at more than 4,000 American institutions of higher learning. The data is not comprehensive because Open Syllabus relies mostly on publicly available data. But it is the most robust database of what is actually taught on campus in the U.S.

Data collected by Open Syllabus reveals that, in 2023, “woke” terms like “critical race theory,” “structural racism,” or “transgender” appear in just 0.08% of college and university syllabi. These are all legitimate areas of inquiry but are derided by critics as evidence of academia’s decline. In any event, the data shows they are not significant components of college and university curricula.

Even generic terms that encompass these terms appear in relatively few syllabi. The term “race” — allegedly an obsession of the modern university — appears in only 2.8% of the syllabi collected by Open Syllabus in 2023. Moreover, the prevalence of “race” in syllabi has remained relatively consistent over the last 15 years. Similarly, “gender” appeared in 4.7% of syllabi in 2023 — a rate that has held fairly steady since 2008.


A gunman shot Slovakia’s prime minister. Here’s what you need to know. (MICHAL ONDERCO, MAY 15, 2024, Good Authority)

We do not know much about the motivation of the alleged shooter, who was apprehended quickly. While his immediate comments at the police station hinted at his political opposition to some of Fico’s recent domestic policy moves, journalists quickly dug up earlier racist anti-Roma texts, and his earlier affinity with Slovak Levies, a paramilitary group with ties to Russia.


A GOP Texas school board member campaigned against schools indoctrinating kids. Then she read the curriculum (JEREMY SCHWARTZ, THE TEXAS TRIBUNE AND PROPUBLICA, MAY 15, 2024, Texas Tribune)

[Courtney] Gore, the co-host of a far-right online talk show, had promised that she would be a strong Republican voice on the nonpartisan school board. Citing “small town, conservative Christian values,” she pledged to inspect educational materials for inappropriate messages about sexuality and race and remove them from every campus in the 7,700-student Granbury Independent School District, an hour southwest of Fort Worth. “Over the years our American Education System has been hijacked by Leftists looking to indoctrinate our kids into the ‘progressive’ way of thinking, and yes, they’ve tried to do this in Granbury ISD,” she wrote in a September 2021 Facebook post, two months before the election. “I cannot sit by and watch their twisted worldview infiltrate Granbury ISD.”

But after taking office and examining hundreds of pages of curriculum, Gore was shocked by what she found — and didn’t find.

The pervasive indoctrination she had railed against simply did not exist. Children were not being sexualized, and she could find no examples of critical race theory, an advanced academic concept that examines systemic racism. She’d examined curriculum related to social-emotional learning, which has come under attack by Christian conservatives who say it encourages children to question gender roles and prioritizes feelings over biblical teachings. Instead, Gore found the materials taught children “how to be a good friend, a good human.”

Gore rushed to share the news with the hard-liners who had encouraged her to run for the seat. She expected them to be as relieved and excited as she had been. But she said they were indifferent, even dismissive, because “it didn’t fit the narrative that they were trying to push.”

The Culture Wars are a rout.